Working at HAVEN Free Clinic has given first-year medical student Emma Barber, who serves as associate director, the chance to meet patients who are “some of the most grateful, humble, amazing people,” she said. Open each Saturday, HAVEN (Health Care, Advocacy, Volunteerism, Education and Neighborhood) offers primary care, social services and free specialty referrals. [See “Students Reach Out to the Uninsured at Free Medical Clinic in Fair Haven,” Autumn 2006.] Since the student-run center opened in November 2005, more than 200 patients have received free medical care.
Along with the gratitude of the patients, HAVEN also received thanks this spring in the form of an Ivy Award, given to people and organizations that further partnership between New Haven and Yale. The Elm-Ivy awards were established in 1979 with the support of Fenmore Seton, a 1938 Yale College alumnus, and his wife, Phyllis, who established an endowment at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Elm Awards are given to members of the New Haven community, and Ivy Awards are given to Yale staff, faculty and students.
HAVEN is based at the Fair Haven Community Health Center and is run by students in public health, nursing, medicine and the Physician Associate Program with assistance from undergraduates. The students work with attending physicians from the School of Medicine and the community and attending clinicians from the Fair Haven Community Health Center.
Although it was designed to provide temporary free care for patients while helping them obtain medical coverage, many patients—a large number of whom are undocumented workers with no health insurance—see the clinic as their primary care provider. HAVEN offers free medications, Saturday hours and a friendly atmosphere, said Barber.
These long-term relationships have led organizers to recognize new areas for expansion, with latent tuberculosis treatment and Spanish-language mental health services emerging as priorities. Many patients present with depression, said Barber, and they face a 12-month waiting list for low-cost services elsewhere. Along with antidepressants and counseling, organizers are planning community tours to put immigrant patients in touch with churches and other resources that might help them combat social isolation.